What Is “Bad Faith” in an Auto Accident?Mississippi Legal News
Insurance companies are a vital part of the recovery process for any victim of an auto accident, providing potentially life-saving funds to cover medical bills, lost wages, repair costs, and even intangible pain and suffering damages. As such, many motorists place a certain amount of faith in their insurance adjusters—this isn’t a perfect system of course, and dishonest adjuster tactics are frequently used, but ultimately, those underhanded methods are limited to minimizing claims or finding as many angles of fault as possible, rather than anything truly insidious.
However, at times, insurance companies betray that trust, going above and beyond to unnecessarily deprive victims of their well-deserved compensation altogether. These excessive acts of bad faith can be a slap in the face at best, but at times, can threaten the livelihoods and lives of those who are wronged.
The particulars of bad faith vary by state, but in Mississippi, when an insurance company denies a claim without a reasonable or debatable basis, maliciously tries to harm or wrong the claimant, or acts with utter negligence and disregard for the legal and civil rights of a claimant, they’ve acted in bad faith.
What Is and Isn’t Bad Faith
“Unreasonability” is the crux of a bad faith claim, rather than the denial of said claim. Understand that there are many cases where an insurance company can deny your auto accident claim (even dishonestly) while not acting in bad faith:
- Insurance companies don’t have to justify claim denials to an absolute degree. As long as they can present a debatable or arguable reason to deny your claim, even if not a completely sound one, then they haven’t acted in bad faith.
- Honest mistakes and clerical issues never constitute bad faith, even when they lead to incorrect denial of a claim. However, insurance companies have a responsibility to re-evaluate claims if they’ve made a mistake; failing to do so adequately would then constitute bad faith.
How To Respond to Bad Faith Claims
Realizing that your claim was denied in bad faith is difficult, yet it’s only half the battle. On its own, knowing that the company has done something illegal won’t benefit you at all—you’ll need to pursue legal action in order to get the compensation you deserve and penalize the insurance company for their unreasonable actions:
- Confront the insurance company and investigate in more detail. Go over your contract in full, extensively document your case, and then demand fair compensation from the insurance company, using the threat of severe financial loss to hopefully intimidate them into re-evaluating your case fairly.
- File a complaint with the Mississippi Insurance Department. The penalties of a bad faith claim go well beyond the compensation you personally deserve. Filing a complaint legitimizes your claim and ensures that the insurance company will be subjected to thorough investigation.
- Pursue a lawsuit with the help of a Mississippi auto accident attorney. If the insurance company refuses to reconsider, you’ll need to file a suit against them. Companies such as these have plenty of money to throw at their legal team, so you’ll similarly need an auto accident attorney in Mississippi to represent your case.
Combatting Bad Faith Auto Accident Claims in Mississippi
Bad faith is a challenge to recognize and combat alike, but as an independent filer, you’re at a severe disadvantage against the legal expertise of an insurance company. If you’re worried that your Mississippi claim was denied in bad faith, call Germany Law Firm, PLLC today at (601) 401-6884 to talk to a Jackson auto accident attorney.